Review: A Victorian Obsession (EXHIBITION)


Review: A Victorian Obsession (EXHIBITION)

The beautiful painting that you see before your eyes, is called The Roses of Heliogabalus by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

And this beautiful painting is currently on show as part of ‘A Victorian Obsession’ at the Leighton House Museum.

I’ll keep this brief and to the point. The house itself is worth visiting, purely for its Arab Hall. The famous painter Leighton (whom the house belonged to) found himself inspired by the Middle East during his lifetime, and as a result decorated his house to reflect that. This hall is one of the first things you see, and really does take your breath away. (Something you wouldn’t expect in the sleepy streets of Kensington.)

Also the price of the ticket included an audio guide, which is definitely worth mentioning as you feel you get a little more for the entrance fee.

Then, as you make your way through the house, more and more paintings are on display (quite honestly I’m not sure whether or not these are part of the permanent collection, or part of the current temporary exhibition. Which has now been extended until the 6th April.) And as you can probably tell, I have a favourite painting that was on display. All the others seemed to lead up to this moment that you would meet the above artwork.

You enter a sectioned off room. Immediately, your nostrils are filled with a heavy sent of roses. Your eyes are then proceeded to be assaulted with this lavish, overflowing, large painting, arousing all the senses. Normally, I find it hard to engage with old paintings, I foolishly have begun to file them away somewhere labelled ‘dusty relics’ and ‘outdated’. Yet here I am, imploring you all to go and see it if you can! Or if not, google it, make the image as large as possible for your screen and just stare.

The painting is based upon a (probably fictional) event concerning the Roman Emperor named Elagabalus (as known as Heliogabalus.) Depicting one of his lavish parties, it shows Elagabalus smothering his guests (to the point of death) with rose petals, released from the ceiling.

And with that I’ll leave you.

Now google that painting! (Or stare at the tiny example above.)

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